Are PSG football shirts really banned in the French city of Marseille?

Historically a rival both of Paris' football team and the capital itself, Marseille has made waves by banning PSG football shirts in the city, and then unbanning them. Here's what is going on.

Are PSG football shirts really banned in the French city of Marseille?
Scores of PSG fans took to the Champs-Elysées in Paris following the Champions League semi-final victory. Photo: AFP

Sunday could be a historic day for French football fans, as the Parisian football team PSG could become the first French team win the prestigious Champions League cup since 1993.

While French authorities put somewhat of a damper on the PSG fans' excitement by banning fanzones in the capital following chaotic scenes during the semi-final, one city went a bit further.

Marseille, a bustling port city in the south of France, banned all PSG shirts, as well as “presence of PSG supporters or people presenting themselves as such and behaving as such,” according to a decree published by the Bouches-du-Rhône police department on Thursday.
The ban was limited to the city's Vieux-Port, an area where many bars show football games, and would last for a period of 12 hours, from 3pm Sunday until 3am Monday.
During that period, anyone finding themselves in the designated are with a PSG shirt, scarf or banner could, according to the decree, risk a fine of €30,000 and six months in prison.
But as soon as the decree was published it caused such a storm of outrage that local authorities ended up having to take the whole thing back.
The story itself however illustrates a deep-set rivalry between Paris and Marseille that goes deeper than the two football clubs.
Like what?
Marseille is France's second largest city, and prides itself in being different from the capital in many ways – culture, cooking, dialect, weather, behaviour.

The north-south divide is perhaps France's strongest socio-geographical divide, and people from the south tend to see Parisian as snobbish and rude. 
People in Marseille on the other hand have a reputation in Paris for being loud and (also) rude and slightly inclined to criminality.
Back in 1993, it was Marseille's team OM who claimed the Champions League victory, and the threat of PSG unseating them as the sole French winner of the cup is not something everyone would like to see happen.
So are there even any PSG fans in Marseille?

Yes! Despite their longstanding rivalry, Marseille is home to many PSG fans (as Paris is to OM fans).


However tensions between the two clubs are so high that the French interior ministry regularly issues travel bans for away fans when the clubs meet.

During the semi-finals there were two assaults on people wearing PSG shirts in Marseille, according to AFP.

The video below shows a group of men in Marseilles demanding a PSG supporter removes his shirt.


But I still don't get why they would ban the shirts?
The prefecture justified their decision as a security precaution taken to prevent the chaotic scenes following the semi-finals.
“Why did I take this decision? Simply because, when PSG qualified for the final, things did not go well,” police Préfet Emmanuel Barbe told France Inter.
Following PSG's semi-final victory, French police arrested 36 people including three minors after clashes on the Champs-Elysées and around PSG's home ground of the Parc des Princes, in the west of the capital.
Scores of PSG fans also took to the streets in Marseille in a manner that authorities deemed unsafe during a pandemic.
But is it even legal to ban shirts?
Critics claim it's not.
Serge Slama, a professor in public law, told Le Parisien that the préfecture's definition was so wide that it concerned “anything that can make one think that you support PSG.”
“Shirt, scarf, banner, but also any behavior indicating that you support PSG, applause, whistles, shouts, etc,” Slama said.
He was backed up by Pierre Barthelemy, a lawyer specialising in the rights of football supporters:

“The decree suffers from a fine error of legal basis,” he tweeted.


The backlash prompted the prefecture to retract the decree on Friday, stating that: “Faced with the incomprehension caused by this decree, the préfet decided to repeal it today,” they said in a tweet on Friday.

“The sole purpose of this decree was to protect Parisian supporters, and in no way intended to restrict freedom of movement.”


Instead of an outright ban, the Bouches-du-Rhône police department now “invite” all PSG supporters in Marseille not to carry signs of their support in public spaces and to “show moderation in their eventual celebrations.”

In Paris, PSG fans will have to watch the game from their homes or a bar, as the mayor's office has said no to fanzones in the city. 

READ ALSO: 'All I see is a massive Covid-19 cluster' – No fanzones in Paris for Champions League final

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IN PICTURES: How floods and a bin strike left Marseille submerged in waste

Torrential rain hit the city of Marseille in the south of France on Sunday and Monday, just days after local waste collectors ended a week-long strike, leading to fears of "catastrophic" waste making its way to the ocean.

IN PICTURES: How floods and a bin strike left Marseille submerged in waste
A man stands on a beach covered with cans following heavy rains and a strike of waste collectors in Marseille on October 5th. Photo: Nicolas TUCAT / AFP.

Marseille is located in the Bouches-du-Rhône département, which Météo France placed on red alert for heavy rain and flooding on Monday. Schools in the area shut and people were warned not to leave their homes as two months’ worth of rain fell in a single day in the Mediterranean city, after heavy rains had already caused flooding on Sunday night.

The situation was compounded by the fact that uncollected garbage was blocking storm drains in certain parts of the city – drains which would normally be cleared ahead of heavy rain – and making it more difficult for emergency services to intervene.

The city’s waste collectors had begun clearing the streets on Saturday after an agreement between unions and local authorities put an end to an eight-day strike over an increase to working hours.

But rain over the weekend made the monumental job even more difficult, and the result was that “rivers of rubbish” flowed through the city’s streets on Monday.

“Rubbish is everywhere. It’s a catastrophe,” biologist Isabelle Poitou, director of the MerTerre association, told AFP. “We’re expecting a strong mistral wind which will push the rubbish, which is currently making its way towards the sea, onto the beaches.”

“It’s vital to come and clear the rubbish from the beaches on Tuesday or Wednesday,” she added. “We need to act before the rubbish gets scattered in the sea at the first gust of wind.”

A woman collects waste on a beach after heavy rains and following a strike of waste collectors in Marseille.

A woman collects waste on a beach after heavy rains and following a strike of waste collectors in Marseille. Photo: Christophe SIMON / AFP.

The video below tweeted by BFMTV journalist Cédric Faiche shows the state of a beach in Marseille early on Tuesday morning. “It’s been cleaned several times but cans and different types of plastic continue to arrive…” Faiche wrote.

However, Faiche told BFM there are similar scenes every time there is heavy rain in Marseille, even if the strike has made the situation even worse.

Minister of the Sea Annick Girardin shared a video of the “sad scene” captured in Marseille on Sunday night. “Discussions between trade unions and the city must not make us forget what really matters: we are all responsible for our seas and our oceans!” she said.

“It’s unacceptable,” Christine Juste, deputy mayor in charge of the environment in Marseille told BFM on Tuesday, criticising the “lack of reactivity” in collecting leftover rubbish following the end of the strike on Friday.

“Why wait so long? In the 6th arrondissement, there has been no collection since the announcement that the strike was over,” she said.

IN PICTURES: See how the deluge has left parts of France’s Mediterranean coast submerged

The Aix-Marseille-Provence Metropolis intercommunal structure, rather than city hall, is in charge of rubbish collection in Marseille.

On Monday morning, the Metropolis dispatched 650 workers to clear away as much waste as possible ahead of the heaviest rainfall which was forecast for the afternoon.

On Monday evening, Marseille’s Mayor Benoît Payan told franceinfo that 3,000 tonnes of garbage were still yet to be collected in the city. “I asked the Prime Minister this evening to class the zone as a natural disaster,” he added.